The Philadelphia Inquirer announced Tuesday that Charlotte Sutton, an assistant managing editor, has been named the paper’s managing editor — assuming the newsroom’s second-in-command role.
The Inquirer’s current managing editor, Patrick Kerkstra, will move into the newly developed position of managing editor for content strategy, where he will work with newsroom leadership and The Inquirer’s business leaders to “drive the organization’s strategic approach to content,” the company said in a statement.
Sutton’s and Kerkstra’s new titles went into effect immediately Tuesday, but the transition into their new positions will take place gradually, said Gabriel Escobar, The Inquirer’s senior vice president and editor. Sutton — who had been assistant managing editor for the business, health, and built environment desks — will continue to guide the paper’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic until a new health editor is named, Escobar said.
Sutton, 60, a native of Summit, N.J., who spent part of her childhood in Pittsburgh, becomes the third woman in The Inquirer’s 192-year history to assume the paper’s managing editor role. She has worked at The Inquirer since 2015. As assistant managing editor, she led and inspired coverage on myriad topics — including the pandemic — as well as directing and hosting The Inquirer’s popular annual “Telling Your Health Story” seminar, which helps patients, families, and health-care workers share their experiences in medicine.
“Every day my admiration grows for The Inquirer, our talented staff, and especially the people and communities we serve at this pivotal time for our region and for journalism,” Sutton said. “I am so honored at this opportunity to help deliver the news and information that matters most to our readers.”
Noting that “we live in challenging times,” Sutton said that COVID-19, racism, gun violence, poverty, addiction, and other systemic issues in the Philadelphia region will remain top coverage priorities. “But there also are a lot of positives,” she said, “considering how diverse and dynamic our communities are — and so the region’s exciting social and economic trends are essential to our mission, as well.”
Before joining The Inquirer, Sutton worked at the Tampa Bay Times for more than two decades in a senior newsroom role and as a reporter, covering state and local government, health, consumer issues, and politics. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in English literature from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in public health from the University of South Florida.
“Charlotte’s qualifications for this critical role cannot be overstated. She is an accomplished manager who has excelled in senior newsroom roles both here and at other publications,” Escobar said. “From the moment she arrived here, she has been an important counsel to me on a number of issues, journalistic and management, and I have come to count on her wise insights and unflappable demeanor.”
Kerkstra, 46, who has served as The Inquirer’s managing editor since 2018, now moves into the newly developed role of managing editor for content strategy, where he said he’ll be “focusing intently on our digital storytelling.”
“I’ll also be working with editors to develop coverage plans for the year ahead and supporting many of our big projects,” Kerkstra said. “The hope is this yields even better journalism that really centers reader needs.”
As The Inquirer’s managing editor, Kerkstra orchestrated a broad newsroom restructuring and oversaw the newspaper’s innovations in digital storytelling. Kerkstra, a native of Oakland, Calif., previously worked as a staff writer at The Inquirer from 1999 to 2010, and went on to be deputy editor and editor-in-chief of Philadelphia Magazine. He rejoined The Inquirer in 2016 as a newsroom leader.
Calling Kerkstra a “key member of our newsroom leadership team,” Escobar said the new content strategy position “will match [Kerkstra’s] deep interests and talents with our needs as a newsroom.”
“I’m very eager to focus my full energy on our journalism and storytelling,” Kerkstra said. “In this new role, I’ll work closely with Inquirer editors and journalists to better serve Philadelphia’s communities, and with my colleagues across the company to create products that meet audience needs.”